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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 6235641, 16 pages
Review Article

Redox Homeostasis and Cellular Antioxidant Systems: Crucial Players in Cancer Growth and Therapy

1Department of Experimental Medicine, General Pathology Section, University of Genova, 16132 Genova, Italy
2Giannina Gaslini Institute, Genova, Italy

Received 18 March 2016; Accepted 18 May 2016

Academic Editor: Tetsuro Kamiya

Copyright © 2016 Barbara Marengo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) and their products are components of cell signaling pathways and play important roles in cellular physiology and pathophysiology. Under physiological conditions, cells control ROS levels by the use of scavenging systems such as superoxide dismutases, peroxiredoxins, and glutathione that balance ROS generation and elimination. Under oxidative stress conditions, excessive ROS can damage cellular proteins, lipids, and DNA, leading to cell damage that may contribute to carcinogenesis. Several studies have shown that cancer cells display an adaptive response to oxidative stress by increasing expression of antioxidant enzymes and molecules. As a double-edged sword, ROS influence signaling pathways determining beneficial or detrimental outcomes in cancer therapy. In this review, we address the role of redox homeostasis in cancer growth and therapy and examine the current literature regarding the redox regulatory systems that become upregulated in cancer and their role in promoting tumor progression and resistance to chemotherapy.